Great Britain

Who is most at risk and how exactly you can catch the virus? — Dr Hilary answers your coronavirus questions

THE Covid-19 pandemic is continuing to sweep across the country, with thousands of cases having been diagnosed so far. People of any age can be struck down with the virus and we should all be following the official guidance to help reduce its spread.

Many of you have been left ­confused about how exactly you can do this, so Dr Hilary Jones – health editor for ITV’s Good Morning Britain and Lorraine – is here once again to answer your questions. Today, he offers advice on who is most at risk and how exactly you can catch the virus.

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Q. How long should I exercise for each day? Is it safe to be out longer than an hour?

A: There is no set limit on how much exercise you can take but it is best to enjoy your physical activity in one go — and you can only exercise in a public place once per day and must physically distance yourself from others as you do. Also, exercise locally so you don’t have to drive to other places. The amount you do indoors is completely up to you.

Q. I have eczema with open sores. Can the virus get in through my skin?

A: No. It is a respiratory virus carried in the air by droplets. It can also be transmitted from those droplets when they land on hard surfaces. If your hands come into contact with these contaminated surfaces and you then touch your face, you could become infected with the virus.

Q. Can the virus be transmitted on our shoes and, if yes, should we wash them after being outside before we go into our homes?

A: In theory, the virus can live on soft furnishings and hard surfaces and possibly even clothes and shoes for a short period. When you remove shoes and clothes, any unlikely viral contamination will be reduced if you are washing your hands frequently and using good hand sanitiser.

Q. My partner is still working, and I have one-year-old twins with asthma. Is it safer for him to stay away?

A: If your partner lives in the same household, provided he has no symptoms, there is no reason you need to live apart but, because of the twins’ asthma, you need to be extremely careful and take the usual hygiene precautions. If you and your partner do not live together, then unfortunately he should stay away.

Q. I am a frontline worker on a hospital ward. I will be working with confirmed cases with coronavirus. I have slightly raised platelet levels. Should I be concerned for myself even if there is full PPE to wear?

A: No. If you had a blood disorder with a reduced white blood cell count or any immune deficiency, it would be different. But there is no reason you cannot continue in your vital and necessary work.

Q. My son is nearly three and he was born premature at 24 weeks. He has been diagnosed with chronic lung disease. Is he classed as vulnerable?

A: Yes. He would be more vulnerable and therefore you should count him in the high-risk category. He really needs to stay isolated for 12 weeks as recommended by Public Health England guidance.

Q. I have Crohn’s and I’m currently taking azathioprine and infliximab. My employer says I’m not vulnerable. I work in a supermarket. What is your advice?

A: As you are slightly immunosuppressant with your medication, you should ask your manager if you can be switched to a non face-to-face role. If not, you should consider staying at home because you fall into the vulnerable group.

Q. I had sepsis two years ago and was on a ventilator. I have slight damage to my lungs. Am I at high risk?

A: If the damage to your lungs is only slight, you are not at high risk but still vulnerable, so work from home if you can and always practise social distancing.

Q. What is the risk of coronavirus to a six-month- old baby? My husband is a frontline police officer.

A: The good news is that babies, infants, toddlers and children under ten are very resilient to this virus and there have been virtually no serious cases globally so try to relax while taking the usual precautions.

Q. How soon can the public get tested to see if they have the virus?

A: We already have tests which show if someone has developed antibodies to the virus and is ­therefore immune.
Three-and-a-half-million new tests have been ordered but will take time to be produced and ­distributed.
Frontline healthcare workers will be tested first as we need to know they are safe to work with patients and then the tests will become available to the public.

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